How Is Asthma Classified
Asthma is classified into four categories based upon frequency of symptoms and objective measures, such as peak flow measurements and/or spirometry results. These categories are: mild intermittent mild persistent moderate persistent and severe persistent. Your physician will determine the severity and control of your asthma based on how frequently you have symptoms and on lung function tests. It is important to note that a person’s asthma symptoms can change from one category to another.
Preventing And Treating Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections, including the common cold, can interact with allergies to worsen asthma. People with moderate to severe asthma are at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 if infected.
People with asthma should try to minimize their risk for respiratory tract infections. Using alcohol-based hand rubs and washing hands are simple but effective preventive measures. Vaccinations for viral respiratory infections are also important.
Active Management Is Important For People With Mild Asthma
A persons level of asthma control and risk factors can help determine whether there should be a stepping up or stepping down of asthma management.4
Evidence from clinical trials shows that most adults with asthma will benefit from using ICS as part of their asthma management, as ICS inhalers are the most effective preventer medicine for asthma. This can be achieved by using regular maintenance ICS or as-needed low-dose budesonide + formoterol.4
Patients with infrequent symptoms or who do not have risk factors for flare-ups may still receive treatment with ICS.4
Additionally, only a few patients should be receiving treatment with a SABA only . Increased use of SABA for symptom relief, especially daily use, indicates worsening of asthma control.4 This is discussed in more detail below.
Table 1: Australian Asthma Handbook guidelines for initial treatment choices for mild asthma4
a this refers to few patients.5
b As of August 2020, terbutaline is only PBS-listed for people who are unable to coordinate use of MDI to deliver SABA or are unable to use another SABA due to a clinically important adverse event during treatment.4
You May Like: Can Asthma Develop In Adulthood
Asthma Is A Complex Condition
Occasionally, people with asthma experience what are known as silent symptoms. This is where the signs of the tightening of the airways dont result in the familiar asthma sounds of wheezing and coughing. If you or someone you live with, work with, or care for experiences silent symptoms, it is important they consult a doctor for an ongoing Asthma Action Plan. People around the person with asthmasuch as co-workers, school teachers or daycare educators should know about the silent symptoms so they can respond if needed. Asthma can start at any age, and can be more of a problem when it starts in older adults. Dont assume if you never had asthma as a child that its not possible to develop symptoms now. Being breathless is not a normal part of getting older, it should always be checked out by a doctor.
Asthma Symptoms In Children
Most children with asthma have symptoms before they turn 5. In very young children, it may be hard for parents, and even doctors, to recognize that the symptoms are due to asthma. The bronchial tubes in infants, toddlers and preschoolers are already small and narrow, and head colds, chest colds and other illnesses can iname these airways, making them even smaller and more irritated.
The symptoms of pediatric asthma can range from a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden and scary breathing emergencies.
Common symptoms to watch for include:
- Coughing, especially at night
- A wheezing or whistling sound when breathing, especially when exhaling
- Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
- Frequent colds that settle in the chest
Your child might have only one of these symptoms or several of them. You may think its just a cold or bronchitis. If the symptoms recur, thats a clue that your child might have asthma. In addition, symptoms may worsen when your child is around asthma triggers, such as irritants in the air or allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust mites.
Recommended Reading: How To Get An Asthma Inhaler
Do Asthma Symptoms Feel Different At Night
Somewhere between 30 and 70% of people with asthma report symptoms of whats known as nocturnal asthma at least once a month1. Daytime asthma symptoms are no walk in the park, but nighttime asthma symptoms can be especially disruptive.
For one, asthma symptoms can wake you out of a dead sleep. Imagine if someone put a pillow over your face, Dr. Galiatsatos says. If they did it during the day, it would still be uncomfortable, but at night you have the added insult of being awakened out of sleep.
But who are these people with asthma who experience nighttime symptoms?
There are some patients who experience worse breathlessness at night for a variety of reasons, Dr. Galiatsatos explains. Some of it is that the physiological change in body temperature could be enough to set off someones asthma. When Im told asthma is awakening a patient at night I have to think about whats going on in that bedroom.
Some questions to ask yourself are: Do you sleep with your pet? Get in bed without showering off the days pollutants? Slumber with the windows open? If you answered yes to any of these things, one simple solution is to address those behaviors. Simply having your pet sleep in another room, showering before bed, or closing the windows to keep irritants out of the room may be enough to reduce the discomfort.
What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack
If you have a severe asthma attack, you need to get immediate medical care.
The first thing you should do is use your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than a maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should use the rescue inhaler when symptoms are bothering you and you can use it more frequently if your flare is severe.
If your rescue inhaler doesnt help or you dont have it with you, go to the emergency department if you have:
- Anxiety or panic.
- Bluish fingernails, bluish lips or gray or whitish lips or gums .
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Very quick or rapid breathing.
Also Check: How To Sleep With Asthma Attack
Why Does My Asthma Act Up At Night
Asthma can get worse at night. If you have symptoms at night, it’s called nighttime asthma. This is often a sign of uncontrolled asthma. It probably has to do with natural body rhythms and changes in your body’s hormones. With the right asthma management and treatment, you should be able to sleep through the night.
Treating Symptoms Versus Controlling The Disease
It is important to understand the difference between coping with asthma attacks and controlling the disease over time.
Medications for asthma fall into two categories:
- Rescue Medication. Medications that open the airways are used to quickly relieve any moderate or severe asthma attack. These drugs are usually short-acting beta-adrenergic agonists taken through an inhaler. Beta2-agonists and other rescue medications do not have any effect on the disease process itself. They are only useful for treating symptoms.
- Long-Term Control Medication. Long-term control medications focus on controlling the damaging inflammatory response associated with asthma and not simply treating symptoms. For adults and children over age 5 with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma, doctors recommend inhaled corticosteroids, which are sometimes accompanied by long-acting beta2-agonists when corticosteroids alone fail to control the disease.
Unfortunately, many patients do not understand the difference between medications that provide rapid short-term relief and those that are used for long-term symptom control. Make sure your doctor explains how to avoid overusing your short-term bronchodilator medications and underusing your long-term corticosteroid medications. The overuse of bronchodilators can have serious consequences, while not properly using steroids can lead to permanent lung damage.
Recommended Reading: Does Vicks Vaporub Help Asthma
Symptoms Like Coughing Wheezing And Feeling Breathless Could Mean You Have Asthma See Your Gp To Confirm A Diagnosis Of Asthma And Start Treatment
- tightness in the chest
- feeling short of breath.
Not everyone with asthma will get all of these. For example, not everyone wheezes. But if youre experiencing one or more of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP.
Most people with well-managed asthma only have symptoms now and then. But some people have symptoms a lot of the time, particularly the small percentage of people with severe asthma.
A key thing with asthma is that symptoms come and go – you may not have them all the time.
Why its important to see your GP to confirm a diagnosis
If youve noticed asthma-like symptoms, dont ignore them. Make an appointment with your GP or an asthma nurse as soon as you can.
The quicker you get diagnosed, the quicker you can get the right medicines to help you deal with your symptoms.
Asthma is a long-term condition that needs regular preventer treatment. If its not treated, it could lead to an asthma attack which can be life-threatening.
Cold Weather And Asthma
Cold weather is a common trigger for asthma symptoms. The following to help you control your symptoms in the cold:
- carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times and keep taking your regular preventer inhaler as prescribed
- if you need to use your inhaler more than usual, speak to your doctor about reviewing your treatment
- keep warm and dry wear gloves, a scarf and a hat, and carry an umbrella
- wrap a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth this will help warm up the air before you breathe it
- try breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth your nose warms the air as you breathe
Recommended Reading: Do People With Asthma Cough
When To See A Doctor
If asthma is well controlled and you follow your treatment plan, you may be able to postpone worsening symptoms.
However, asthma can get worse over time. Thats why its important to maintain regular check-ups with your doctor.
If you think your asthma symptoms are occurring more frequently before youre scheduled for your next appointment, go ahead and make a new appointment. Its important to stay on top of changes in asthma symptoms so you can control them.
Causes And Triggers Of Asthma
Asthma is caused by swelling of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This makes the tubes highly sensitive, so they temporarily narrow.
It may happen randomly or after exposure to a trigger.
Common asthma triggers include:
- smoke, pollution and cold air
- infections like colds or flu
Identifying and avoiding your asthma triggers can help you keep your symptoms under control.
You May Like: Allergy And Asthma Lincoln Ne
What Is Severe Persistent Asthma
People with severe persistent asthma have asthma symptoms every day, throughout the day. As a result, your daily activities are extremely limited. You might wake up every night because of your asthma symptoms. You must use rescue medicines several times a day. Your lung spirometry tests will show severely decreased lung function.1
If you have severe asthma, you may need to see a team of specialists in addition to your regular asthma doctor. You might also seek mental health support for asthma, such as seeing a therapist or joining a support group for people with asthma.2
Who Can Get Asthma
Statistics show that people assigned female at birth tend to have asthma more than people assigned male at birth. Asthma affects Black people more frequently than other races.
How Does Asthma Affect Adults
Asthma, an inflammatory lung disease, affects the respiratory system and causes the airways to narrow when a person is exposed to an allergen such as dust or pollen.
The airways can also narrow if a person is exercising or exposed to cold air. Breathing becomes difficult when the airways narrow, and asthma symptoms appear.
- Shortness of breath
Asthma And Copd Fundamentals
Asthma & COPD Fundamentals Course Asthma & Respiratory Foundation NZ This course aligns the latest research with specific information for the New Zealand context, such as recently funded medications, treating Mori and Pasifika peoples, and best practice health literacy. The course aligns with the latest New Zealand asthma guidelines. It includes two half day workshops covering the key aspects of COPD and asthma pathophysiology, management and practice.
With thanks to our supporters
Read Also: What Is The Cause Of Bronchial Asthma
After Your Asthma Diagnosis
The good news is there are lots of effective medicines available to help manage your symptoms. With the right treatment plan and good support from your GP you could stay symptom free.
Here are some things you can do straight away to get off to a good start:
Use an asthma action plan
An asthma action plan is a simple tool to help you manage your asthma well. You fill it in with your GP or asthma nurse.
It tells you exactly how to manage your asthma every day and what to do if symptoms get worse. Evidence suggests that using one means youre less likely to end up in hospital with an asthma attack.
Once you’ve got your own, personalised, asthma action plan, take it along to all your appointments to make sure its always up to date.
Know how to use your inhaler
Using an asthma inhaler can be tricky to get right even if youve been using one for some time. Make sure you start using yours in the best way from the beginning. Some inhalers are best used with a spacer.
Your GP should show you how to use your inhaler and spacer in the right way, but you can also ask the pharmacist to show you when you pick up your prescription.
We have some inhaler videos too which you can watch at home.
Go to all your asthma check-ups
When youre first diagnosed, you may need to see your GP or asthma nurse a few times to check how well your treatment is working. You can also talk about how youre coping with your asthma.
If you smoke, get support to quit
What Is Moderate Persistent Asthma
People with moderate persistent asthma have asthma symptoms every day.1
Some of your daily activities are limited by your asthma. You wake up at least once a week because of asthma symptoms. You use rescue medicines every day to control your asthma symptoms. Your lung spirometry tests will show decreased lung function.1
Recommended Reading: Is Asthma High Risk For Covid
What Should I Know About Covid
If you have asthma that is moderate-to-severe, or if your asthma symptoms arent well controlled, youre at greater risk of having to be hospitalized if you get COVID-19. Therefore, you should wear a mask if you go to indoor spaces with other people, get vaccinated and avoid exposure to people who have the virus.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Many people live fulfilling lives with asthma. Some professional athletes with asthma have set records in their sports. Your healthcare provider can help you find the best way to manage your asthma. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to control your symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/19/2022.
Asthma Symptoms In Adults: Best Health Guide 2022
We tend to get exposed to many allergies like spores, dust mites, animal fur, or feathers in our day-to-day life. And such exposures, we often face respiratory issues.
One such common respiratory issue faced by us is Asthma. Today, in this article, we will discuss Asthma symptoms in adults. But before that, lets see what Asthma is.
You May Like: What To Do When Someone Is Having An Asthma Attack
Common Symptoms Of Asthma Include:
- difficulty breathing, feeling out of breath or as though you can’t get enough air out of your lungs
- a tight feeling in your chest like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest
- a cough, which can be worse at night or in the morning.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor so they can assess if this is due to asthma or something else.
Severe asthma symptoms
From time to time, your symptoms may get gradually or suddenly worse. Seek urgent medical help if you have any of these severe symptoms:
For severe asthma symptoms, you should use your reliever inhaler immediately and call an ambulance on 111 or go to your nearest Accident & Emergency clinic.
How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
Recommended Reading: What To Do For Asthma Without Inhaler